One of the main throughput limitations of mass spectrometry lies at the front end: sample preparation and loading can be a slow and tedious process. But last week, two companies declared success in making their solutions to this problem compatible with mass specs.
Advion Biosciences announced that it had adapted its NanoMate 100 nanoelectrospray system for sample loading onto Thermo Electron’s Finnigan LCQ Deca XP Plus ion trap mass spectrometer, and that Thermo would co-market the NanoMate with its instrument.
Meanwhile, Gyros, of Uppsala, Sweden, said it had successfully designed its compact-disk microfluidics system to load samples onto Kratos Analytical’s MALDI mass spectrometers.
Advion’s nanoelectrospray chip, which has 100 cylindrical openings of 10 micrometer inside diameter, aims at replacing the pulled capillaries conventionally used in nanoelectrospray ionization. Developed by Jack Henion, Advion’s president and CEO, while at Cornell University, it promises higher throughput as well as better spray stability, resulting in better sensitivity and protein sequence coverage. According to Henion, who is now a professor emeritus at Cornell, the quality of the spray is “the Achilles heel of electrospray.” Instead of sequentially installing tapered capillaries with non-uniform spray nozzles on the mass spec, a “tedious, manual process,” researchers can automatically inject up to 100 samples using one chip, which has uniform openings, Henion said. “Taking away some fiddly technique is actually a big leap in mass spectrometry,” commented Iain Mylchreest, general manager in Thermo’s life and laboratory sciences unit.
Advion actually launched its NanoMate system, which is listed at $85,000, last summer at ASMS, but this is the company’s first co-marketing agreement with a mass spec vendor. The partnership with Thermo is non-exclusive, and Advion “wants to market it to the ‘big three’ and others in the future,” said Henion. At present, the company is in discussions with ABI/MDS Sciex, Waters, and Bruker, he told ProteoMonitor, and is hoping to couple its system to Thermo’s new ion trap-FTMS instrument as well.
Gyros has also aimed to spread itself out in the mass spec world, working with Kratos Analytical since last May to fit its compact-disk Gyrolab MALDI system to the Axima-QIT and Axima-CFRplus line of mass spectrometry workstations.
The Gyrolab MALDI SP1 is a microlaboratory that uses centrifugal force to concentrate, purify, and crystallize protein digests on the CD surface. The CD, doubling as a MALDI plate, then can be loaded onto the mass spectrometer for analysis of the samples. “The idea of the CD is quite a new one within proteomics,” said Chris Sutton, Kratos’ MALDI business manager. Also, he said, “this idea of desalting samples instead of using zip tips” appealed to Kratos.
Kratos and Gyros will not formally co-market their systems: In fact, Kratos has been marketing its mass spectrometers along with Tecan sample- preparation systems, but a combination of the Gyrolab MALDI CD system and the Axima mass spectrometers will be available to Kratos customers in Europe, said Sutton.